Describe and give examples of four different defense mechanisms according to psychoanalytic theory Custom Essay

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Freud believed that repression, the basic mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing impulses, enables other defense mechanisms.

Defense mechanism:Unconscious process employed to avoid anxiety-arousing thoughts or feelings.

1) Regression:Retreating to a more infantile psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated. Example: A little boy reverts to the oral comfort of thumb sucking in the car on the way to his first day of school.

2) Reaction formation: Switching unacceptable impulses into their opposites. Example: Repressing angry feelings, a person displays exaggerated friendliness.

3) Projection: Disguising one’s own threatening impulses by attributing them to others. Example: An El Salvadoran saying captures the idea: “The thief thinks everyone else is a thief.”

4) Rationalization: Offering self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening unconscious reasons for one’s actions. Example: A habitual drinker says she drinks with her friends “just to be sociable.”

5) Displacement: Shifting sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person. Example: A little girl kicks the family dog after her mother sends her to her room.

6) Denial: Refusing to believe or even perceive painful realities. Example: A partner denies evidence of his loved one’s affair.

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